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Afar Depression

Context

  • Geologists predict that the African continent’s rift in the Afar Triangle could lead to the formation of a new ocean in 5 to 10 million years.

About

  • The Afar Triangle is also known as the Afar Depression, located in the Horn of Africa.
  • The Afar Triangle is a geological depression where three tectonic plates—the Nubian, Somali, and Arabian plates converge.
  • This area is part of the East African Rift system, which extends from the Afar region down through eastern Africa.
  • The rifting process occurring here is a result of the tectonic plates slowly moving apart, a phenomenon that has been taking place for millions of years.

Formation of New Ocean

  • In 2005, a 35-mile-long rift opened up in the Ethiopian desert, signaling the ongoing separation of the African continent.
  • This rift is the surface expression of deep-seated tectonic forces at work, as the Somali plate moves away from the Nubian plate, stretching and thinning the Earth’s crust.
  • Geologists predict that in 5 to 10 million years, the tectonic movement will eventually split the African continent into two, creating a new ocean basin.
  • This new body of water would be the result of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden flooding over the Afar region and into the East African Rift Valley.
  • Consequently, this part of East Africa would evolve into its distinct continent